30 May 2002, NEW YORK, LONDON, GENEVA, TOKYO, SEOUL: Numerous current and former World Cup stars will be appearing in an historic video series on behalf of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) that will be officially launched today, the eve of the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Seoul, South Korea.
The series of TV spots will be seen by hundreds of millions of fans around the world during and after the FIFA World Cup. The players in them form a veritable "dream team" of World Cup stars, who together are saying that football, the world's greatest passion, must be played on behalf of its greatest resource, children.
The stars who have pledged their support to children include Luis Figo of Portugal, FIFA World Footballer of the Year and the runner up, England's David Beckham; Elhadji Diouf of Senegal, the African Footballer of the Year; and China's Fan Zhiyi, the Asian Footballer of the Year (see attachment for full list).
Many of the spots juxtapose the game of football with the efforts that must be made to improve the situation of children everywhere -- an essential first step for a more prosperous, just and stable world. For example, in his spot Argentina's captain Juan Sebastian Veron echoes many of his fellow footballers. "For some people football is an obsession, it's a way of life, it's a passion. For some people it is more important than life or death," he said, while wearing the familiar blue and white jersey of Argentina. "More important than children? I don't think so."
The 30-second public service announcements (PSAs) are part of a new global alliance between FIFA and UNICEF, launched last year by Brazilian legend Pele, that promises to have far-reaching benefits for children. The World Cup, which FIFA has dedicated to children, is the partnership's first major event. The partnership is also working in numerous countries, where FIFA is providing support to UNICEF programmes that use football in a variety of ways, from helping war-affected children to preventing HIV/AIDS.
45 players, 17 Countries, 3 Languages
So far 45 World Cup players from 17 national teams have pledged to support UNICEF and many have recorded spots -- most of them in English, Spanish or French. This includes 14 players from defending champion France, who interrupted their training at Clairefontaine to record the spots, and major portions of the Equadoran and Costa Rican squads. In addition, former World Cup stars like Pele have also stood before the cameras to make pledges on behalf of children.
UNICEF is distributing the TV spots rights-free to broadcasters worldwide for use during and after the World Cup. They are also available on the UNICEF website (www.unicef.org/football).
The spots follow two main themes. One is a general statement in support of action on behalf of children, like Mr.Veron's. The other is a more specific message on preventing HIV/AIDS. The UNICEF-FIFA partnership is focusing on HIV/AIDS prevention to help foster open discussion about the pandemic, which mainly impacts the young.
In addition to the video spots, other child-related activities for the 2002 FIFA World Cup include:
An online auction of World Cup gear signed by football stars and other international luminaries started May 27 and will run through the end of the tournament
Before many games children will escort players onto the pitch.
UNICEF and FIFA have named June 19/20th Say Yes for Children Football Days
These current activities build on a rich tradition of footballers working on behalf of children. One of the most active is George Weah, Liberia's former World Footballer of the Year. A UNICEF Ambassador, Mr. Weah works tirelessly to help children affect by armed conflict. Ivan Zamorano of Chile, Ole-GunnarSolskjaer from Norway and Le Huynh Duc from Vietnam have also done stellar advocacy for children's issues.
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For further details please contact:
Marc Vergara - ( English/French) - (82-16) 9456 5200
Marc Chalamet - English/French) -(82-16) 9456 5167
Christina Miguel - (Spanish )- (82-2) 546 2271
Sae Ryo Kim - (English.Japanese/Korean/Chinese) - (82 16) 758 5338
Sam Koo - (English/Japanese /Korean) - (82-17) -263 5423
Karuna Nundy, New York, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1-212-303-7941